Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The problem with the EU is that it is the same as the UK

Endorsing and responding to this and this.

Do not throw at me the policies and structures of the EU. I want the EU to have better, more liberal policies and better, more democratic structures. This is the same as what I want for the UK.

The reason the EU doesn't have these things is because it is dominated by socialist and conservative politics; the same as the UK.

And yet I will not cry and take my ball home, and demand secession from the UK and the EU. Our interests lie in engaging with the politics of both and working to make them better.

Yet just as my support for the localism agenda in the UK does not make me a secessionist, it should be possible to have a sober debate about EU competencies without it becoming a proxy for the hare-brained withdrawal agenda.

Our best interests are served by a strong and democratic EU, acting on trade, the environment, cross-border crime, security and in the international community. The entrenchment of democracy in Eastern Europe is unlikely to have happened without the EU. And much of it might easily have fallen back into Russia's sphere of influence. A quadrillion pounds of defence spending could not have achieved this kind of progress for democracy and the rule of law, which is in all our interests.

This should not be taken to imply support for any particular socialist or conservative policy adopted by the EU at the behest of the conservative and socialist national governments that control it. Given this political dominance it is a small miracle that the policies of the EU (or UK) are as good as they are.

No. The demands for localism and democratic reform are not predicated on the belief that liberals will suddenly win all the arguments and all the elections under a more democratic system. Rather that politicians of whatever party will be more accountable to the people and will therefore make better decisions.

Eurosceptics of left and right, in common with the SNP have a very quaint belief that the political challenges they face can be attributed to some evil outside force, and if only "they" could be got rid of then "we" can put things right. The use of "they" and "we" is pure emotional button-pushing, and quite arbitrary. Yet the challenges in Scotland are not that different to those in the rest of the UK, nor those in the UK very different to the rest of the continent. Scapegoating the other is cheap and dangerous politics.

So what I am advocating here is not a compromise between the Europhiles and Eurosceptics. I am uncompromisingly in favour of the EU, and of a particular liberal democratic vision of it, and against the policies of socialists and conservatives that stand in the way of that vision; against those policies when they are implemented at the EU level just as much as when they are implemented elsewhere. This means campaigning against the EU "government of the day" in the same way that we would campaign against a similarly wrong UK or local government.

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